Ms. Brough goes to Washington

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On Friday the 16th, a delegation of 70 metro Denver business leaders joined Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Lakewood Mayor Bob Murphy and former mayors Wellington Webb and Bill Vidal on a trip to our nation’s capital to talk jobs. I was privileged to be in such great company and represent the business community along with leaders from Wells Fargo, Western Union, Oakwood Homes, Frontier Airlines, Arrow Electronics and others.

We met with a number of federal officials including the Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, Dr. Rebecca Blank, and Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation John Porcari to discuss job creation, innovation and global competitiveness.

The discussions in Washington provided a strong link to the work we do here at the Chamber:

Our Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation set out in 2004 with a goal to create and attract 100,000 jobs by 2008, a goal it reached by mid-2007. The recession took away many jobs created during that time and so, today, the Metro Denver EDC is working harder than ever to attract new companies and jobs to Colorado. The organization works to market metro Denver to site selectors and other decision-makers nationally and internationally with a focus on eight industry specialties – aerospace, aviation, bioscience, broadcasting and telecom, energy, financial services, healthcare and wellness, and IT–software. Some of these clusters are showing very strong job growth for Colorado. You can track recent relocation and expansion announcements on the website.

The Colorado Competitive Council (C3) was created by the Chamber in 2005 to advocate for sound policies that encourage growth of key industries and the development of a positive business climate in Colorado. Currently, 31 investors and 58 steering committee members that represent businesses, associations and chambers of commerce statewide are continuing that mission.

The Colorado business roundtable in Washington, D.C., last week highlighted some truths that we at the Chamber live and breathe every day: national and international competitiveness is key for economic recovery and job creation; business and community leaders must come together to work toward the common goal of economic development; and elected leaders can support economic recovery through business-friendly legislation and thoughtful regulation.

It was as clear in D.C. as it is here at home – Colorado’s business and community leaders share a passion for our state and we all want to ensure its continued success.


The state of small business in Colorado: stellar!

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What a month for small business in Colorado!

On the heels of our biggest-ever State of Small Business Breakfast event on March 8, Tameka Montgomery and her staff at the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC) wowed us all with a wonderful surprise.

Our SBDC this week was selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for the 2012 Small Business Development Center Excellence & Innovation Award, making it the top center serving small business in the United States.

There are approximately 1,100 small business development centers across the United States eligible for this award, which recognizes hard work, innovative ideas, dedication and impact in their communities.

We have known for years how critical the work of our SBDC is and what it accomplishes each and every year. In 2011, the SBDC delivered training to 3,400 attendees and provided consulting services to 1,199 entrepreneurs. It delivered 9,067 hours of consulting time and helped its clients create 446 jobs, retain 2,572 jobs, secure $16.1 million in capital, obtain $34.6 million in contracts and start 52 new businesses. It is incredible to be recognized as the best in class. Tameka will travel to Washington, D.C., to accept the award at a celebration during National Small Business Week, which runs May 21-25.

The work that Tameka and her team do is more important now than ever before, as Colorado’s numbers of sole proprietorships continue to grow. Our culture of innovation encourages individuals to create and develop their own ideas and companies. Statistics show that more than 90 percent of Coloradans work for those small businesses. We are not only here to support our small businesses, but we are doing it better than anybody else out there.

As I mentioned earlier, three successful small business owners spoke at our State of Small Business event last Thursday. This event focused on how small businesses are being energized, accelerated and inspired through new initiatives and programs right here in Colorado.

Jan Horsfall, founding co-chairman of StartUp Colorado, explained how his organization works to cultivate new business in Colorado. In 2012, Startup Colorado has set goals to increase entrepreneurial opportunities across the Front Range, including engaging larger companies through commitments to help potential business owners.

Daniel Epstein, recognized by Forbes as one of the top 30 most impactful entrepreneurs in his role as the founder and CEO of Unreasonable Adventures, spoke about how he is working to label Colorado as “entrepreneurial by nature.” On his website, Colorado companies can download a logo he has created to stand together to collectively brand the state as the most entrepreneurial in the union.

Vic Ahmed, CEO of Business Genetics, a serial entrepreneur who has built several startup companies from scratch, encouraged listeners to tap into the resources of fellow community members – particularly military veterans – to boost their business’ success. We couldn’t agree more – given our recent announcement of the CU Denver Boots to Suits Program. You can start the process of hiring, mentoring or enlisting a veteran student as an intern at your business by simply clicking the link above.

Don’t forget our Business Awards luncheon coming up on April 27. It celebrates the impact of businesses to our economy across the state. If you haven’t yet, sign up today.


Our businesses aren’t bound by borders

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Last week, I attended a reception hosted by the British Consulate-General in Denver to meet recently appointed HM Consul-General Beverley Simpson.

Simpson became our Consul-General in November 2011 after serving as Deputy Consul-General in Erbil, Iraq and Deputy Consul-General in Chongqing, China. She has been a member of the British Diplomatic Service for more than 22 years, working in Australia, the Caribbean, the Falkland Islands, Bosnia, India and at the United Nations in New York.

Her newly acquired position has her working with Coloradans, residents in Wyoming and our neighbors in New Mexico. Her duties in this role are to strengthen and enhance the existing ties between the UK and those states, while working to further develop and deepen our diplomatic and economic relationships.

The ties are strong between the UK and Colorado. English investment in bonds that financed the Union Pacific Railroad to Cheyenne was key to keeping Denver on the map more than a century ago.

The connection between these two parts of the world continues even stronger today with a non-stop flight between London and Denver – operated by British Airways. Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, will tell you that this flight is the number one busiest non-stop flight at Denver International Airport. There’s good reason for that: Once our businesses arrive in London, they’re finding success.

Chamber member CH2M HILL, a Fortune 500 company, is one of the lead contractors on the 2012 Summer Olympics project in London.

Not only is London a wonderful location for our Colorado businesses, but it is a gateway city to the rest of northern Europe, where businesses like Vestas Wind Systems, SMA Solar and Siemens have ties.

In July, Toby Churchill Ltd., a British company that manufactures communications aids for people with voice impairments, will open its first sales office in the United States, based in Commerce City. Earlier this month, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced the opening of an Honorary European Trade and Investment Office in Ireland, which will increase ties and business opportunities between Europe and Colorado.

In 2011, the UK was the seventh largest export market for Colorado commodities, totaling $247 million. Conversely, that same year, Colorado imported $224 million in commodities from the UK, making it the 11th largest import market for our state.

Simpson’s work is vitally important – especially as our businesses grow ever more global in their reach. We know that operations small and large are no longer bound by geography and time.

That is why the Chamber has taken the stance it has on several recent pieces of legislation aimed at favoring Colorado workers and companies. While the Chamber works every day to help grow Colorado businesses and put Coloradans back to work, this type of legislation sends the wrong message to our national and international partners in an increasingly global economy.

The Chamber’s overarching concern on preference legislation focuses on the big picture (the global picture) and the long term. In today’s global economy, added regulations on types of companies that can do business in Colorado is not conducive to expansion of our economy. Further, we know our businesses are some of the most competitive in the world, and we want to give them every chance to win business at home and afar.

We get so much out of our strong working relationships with peers around the world. We extend our warmest welcome to Consul-General Simpson and look forward to continuing our work together.